How can an e-business use IT to enhance online web performance and increase revenue while also controlling costs? One obvious strategy is to focus internally on the systems that deliver content and functionality. To this end, most organizations originally invested in tools to monitor website and the hardware components of their IT infrastructure. These tools worked fine in a contained mainframe environment where functioning hardware was a reliable indication of customer experience. However, as companies moved to distributed servers running Web applications, it became important to also monitor application software characteristics, e.g., the length of time to run a database query or load a Java servlet. The idea is to use these so-called internal systems management tools to detect problems quickly from within the firewall and respond efficiently, thereby diminishing the external impact on service quality and customer satisfaction.
While efficient systems management is important, many IT professionals have recently recognized that it does not always capture customer issues. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the basic deficiency is that speculation about customer service is inferred indirectly from measurements of internal components and applications.